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Nutt A “Dirty Coach” For Taking Masoli?

Don’t expect to see’s Stewart Mandel hanging out at an Ole Miss practice anytime soon.  Check out the headline from his latest piece:

“Masoli move latest proof Houston Nutt is a certifiably dirty coach.”

Zing.  That’s just puttin’ it right out there, isn’t it?

In Mandel’s view, a dirty coach is one who will “eschew his integrity if doing so might pay off in a couple more Ws.  He’s not so much a winner as a survivalist.  He’s not even necessarily a rule-breaker because he creates his own loopholes.”

First, Mandel and I have two very different definitions of “a dirty coach.”  I believe that term should be reserved for dishonest cads who cheat.  Cheating is dirty.  There are set rules.  You choose to break the rules, you’re dirty.

Nutt, however, is allowing someone dismissed from another team to join his squad based on need.  Now, the quickness and totality of Nutt’s “I’m not interested, yes I am” Jeremiah Masoli flip-flop is eye-popping, no doubt.  Masoli’s star talent helps make this a bigger story, too.  And Nutt has shown in the past that he’ll take chances on some truly bad apples (Jamar Hornsby had a nastier looking track record than Masoli).

But Nutt isn’t breaking a rule.  No SEC rule.  No NCAA rule.  And while this instance might be a bit extreme/obvious, it’s hardly the first time a coach has traded a pound of integrity for 10 pounds of fan equity.

If Mandel’s view is to be accepted, then any coach who gives more second- and third-chances to a starter than to a backup is “a dirty coach.”  Any coach who recruits a kid with a history of off-field troubles is also dirty. 

If that’s the case, then Nutt is far from the only certifiably dirty coach in the country.  I’m guessing you can’t find 10 in America who haven’t given a talented troublemaker more chances to succeed than a non-talented troublemaker.  So what we’re talking about here is a matter of degrees.

Mandel also takes some shots at Masoli.  The writer admits that evidence suggests he played “almost no role” in the fraternity burglary in January.  (Masoli says that he pleaded guilty to avoid jail time, even though he was innocent.)  And Mandel also says that Masoli “might have been a bystander” during one incident in high school that’s been turned by the media into a “series of strong-armed robberies.”

But, Mandel laughably says: “He still lied to police during the fraternity investigation. … He also lied to his coach, Chip Kelly, who showed restraint in not dismissing him initially, before promptly blowing his second chance with the marijuana bust.  Only a dirty coach would take a chance on a kid who so blatantly duped his previous coach.”

Let’s re-read all that.  In Mandel’s view, Masoli may not have stolen anything, but the fact that he tried to cover his tracks with the cops and his coach are — it would seem — just as bad as actually stealing.  Well, maybe in Sunday school, but in the real world, people do dumb things to get themselves out of trouble everyday.  Everyone has done it.  I’m not saying it’s right, but it happens.

Let’s say you’re a kid who was busted as — possibly — a bystander to a crime during high school (and you’ve kept your nose clean for four years since, by the way), and you’re asked did you steal these laptops?  As a 20-year-old who’s already been screwed over once (possibly), would you not even think to say, “Steal it?  I wasn’t even there!”

Again.  It’s not right.  But a kid lying to keep himself out of trouble does not equate to robbery.  If Mandel is allowing that Masoli may well have been innocent of his two most talked about crimes, it’s unfair for him to then toss out a “yeah, but” based on lying.  If coaches kicked off every kid who told them, “I didn’t do anything,” college football sidelines would be awfully lonely places.

As for the “marijuana bust,” I’m guessing that Masoli wasn’t the only student on the Oregon campus to have less than an ounce of marijuana in his possession.  The guy wasn’t driving an ice cream truck made of weed, he had less than an ounce.  It’s still illegal, but it’s not like he’d swallowed a balloon of cocaine.

Finally, the line “Only a dirty coach would take a chance on a kid…” sounds like it came from the 1950s educational film, “Mr. Bungle.”  “Only a Mr. Bungle would eat in the school cafeteria without washing his hands first.”  Please.

I realize that this reads as though I’m the defense attorney for Jeremiah Masoli.  I am not.  If nothing else, the man who was smart enough to graduate early from Oregon has shown that he’s quite capable of doing some awfully stupid things.

At the very least, he was running around with thugs that night in high school, he lied to his coach and police to keep himself out of trouble in the frat incident, and he chose to drive on a suspended license with some grass in his car.  Stupid, yes?  Charles Manson?  No.

And while I ripped Nutt last year for going after Hornsby, I don’t view Masoli as anywhere near as bad a case as Hornsby.  He might turn out to be, but at this point, their resumes don’t compare.

So in the end we arrive at this point: Nutt will give more chances to talented “bad guys” than he will to non-talented “bad guys.”  The same goes for about 95% of the coaches in college football and basketball.

I’m not saying Nutt’s an angel.  But is he a dirty coach?  If he’s dirtier than others, it’s only by a matter of degrees.

Sidenote — Mandel naturally finds a way to work Nutt’s text messages with an Arkansas television anchor into his piece.  Unless Mandel is willing to let the rest of us go through his text messages and emails, I suggest he not start throwing around accusations of infidelity.  If you pay attention, the folks who usually bark the loudest about other folks’ moral failings are the ones who eventually get caught spreading their legs in a men’s room stall.




  1. [...] Re: Is Houston Nutt a Dirty Coach? Another blogger's more balanced take on Coach Nutt and on Mandel, himself: Nutt A “Dirty Coach” For Taking Masoli? [...]

  2. [...] with a below average response to Mandel piece from yesterday (really Chuck, Howie Mandel jokes?), Mr. SEC rebuts without the red and blue glasses, andthen the Jackyl chimes in to remind us who the dirtiest of them all really [...]

  3. [...] —HERE is Mr. SEC’s view of the whole Masoli situation. He takes a bit of a different stance than SI’s Mandel does. [...]

  4. [...] Majors, Fulmer Say Nice Things About One Another.  Temperature Dropping In Hell.2.  Nutt A “Dirty Coach” For Taking Masoli?3.  No Surprise: SEC Schools Make A Lot Of Cash Off Of Football And BasketballSeptember1.  Lyons [...]

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